By Ofonmbuk Ibanga
In less than four years, Governor Udom Emmanuel, has recorded giant strides in the industrialisation of Akwa Ibom State, creating jobs for the people and wealth for the state. The positive turn-around in terms of establishment of industries was last witnessed in the Second Republic, when what is Akwa Ibom today was just an appendage of then then Cross River State, with the late Dr. Clement Isong, in-charge as governor. In fact, some of the industries, like Peacock Paint, which was comatose has been brought back to life by the Emmanuel administration.
When in 2015 Udom Emmanuel emerged as Governor of Akwa Ibom State, he had a clear vision on how to transform the state into an enviable one among its peers through industrialisation. And being a former investment banker, walking the talk became very easy for him.
Emmanuel has kept to his words by establishing one industry after another to better the lives of the people of Akwa Ibom State. He has also not relented in creating the enabling environment for foreign investors to move into the state. In the last three and half years, Udom has established over 12 industries in the state and the number is still counting.
Despite the progress his administration has recorded so far in transforming the state, the governor has continued in his push to move the state from being a civil service state where people solely depend on government to a state where people can be self-reliant and even become employers of labour. This is what has given impetus to the industrialisation drive, which has yielded positive results in the state within a period of three years.
It was for this reason that he tagged the state’s budget for 2019: “Budget of Industrialisation for Poverty Alleviation.” In the budget, the governor acknowledged that the industrialisation drive of his administration has yielded fruits in the number of jobs and amount of wealth created. He went further to assure the people of the state that his government will provide funding for some activities to consolidate on the gains it has so far achieved. This will be in the areas of design and development of industrial estates and parks including the upgrading of facilities in Uyo Phase 2 Industrial Park; organising of export awareness campaign and export forum in a bid to promote non-oil export trade in the state.
Under the 2019 Budget, the Emmanuel administration will also fund industrial promotion programmes in collaboration with relevant agencies and private sector organisation in order to deliver, at least, three new industries by the end of 2019. That would consolidate what he has achieved so far.
One of the ground-breaking achievements of his administration is the establishment of a Toothpick and Pencil factory, the first of its kind in Nigeria. With this, the Emmanuel administration has put an end to importation of these basic products into Akwa Ibom and other states in the country. No doubt, the state will begin to generate revenue from this factory by selling the products to other states of the federation in addition to creating jobs and reducing poverty.
Located at Itam Industrial Park in Itu, where a Plastic Manufacturing Plant is also established, the factory has the capacity to generate N1 billion annually in addition to creating about 10, 000 jobs for the people of Akwa Ibom State. The money generated by this factory will boost the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, of the state. This is being carried out under the Akwa Ibom Employment and Enterprise Scheme, AKEES.
For Governor Udom Emmanuel’s administration, 2018 was a remarkable year. The governor used the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the creation of the state to inaugurate a multi-million Naira syringe manufacturing factory in the state, which is located in Onna Local Government Area and is owned by a Turkish firm known as VKS Group. The factory has the capacity to produce 350 million units of 2ml, 5ml and 10ml disposable syringes annually. Although the industry is a private sector investment, the government of Akwa Ibom provided land and other enabling factors to attract the foreign investors from Turkey.
Similarly, an Electric Metering factory has come on stream in Akwa Ibom under the administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel. The factory has the capacity to produce about one million units of electric meters annually. This is a major boost to the nation’s ailing power sector where electricity supply and metering have been major hindrances to industrialisation.
Like the Syringe Manufacturing Company, the Electric Metering factory, located in Onna Local Government Area is also a Public-Private Partnership between the Government of Akwa Ibom State and private investors. While inaugurating the syringe and electric metering factories, Vice President, Yemi Osinbanjo, showered encomium on Governor Udom Emmanuel for his giant strides in industrialisation.
Again, the Akwa Ibom Electric Metering company is the first and largest of its kind in the country. Within its first year of operation, the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, PHED, procured about 40, 000 digital meters for installation on residential and official properties within Uyo and its environs from the company.
Also, the state government spent about N526 million to reactivate the Peacock Paints Industry located at Ikot Ekan in Etinan Local Government Area. While re-inaugurating the company, the governor announced that the state had also paid off the company’s debt, arising from interest on a N30 million loan from financial institutions. The government also entered into discussion with German investors to ensure effective management of the company and production of quality products while guaranteeing jobs for the people of Akwa Ibom.
To aid industrialisation in the state, the governor has also ensured that the Ibom Power Plant is up and running, supplying up to 20 hours of electricity to homes and commercial outfits, and in the process enabling small and medium scale industries to thrive. This has also encouraged investment in Uyo and Ikot Abasi, among others.
Further to this, within the first three years of his administration, Governor Emmanuel established the Coconut Oil Factory in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area. The factory has the capacity to generate about 1, 500 direct jobs and several other indirect jobs. The factory is also expected to contribute about $200 million to the state IGR. To ensure the smooth running of this factory and boost availability of raw materials for the refinery, the state government has also set aside 11, 000 hectares of coconut plantation where 2,000 stands of coconut trees have been planted, which will also generate employment for between 2, 000 and 3, 000 people.
There’s also the King’s Flour Mill in Okat, Onna LGA that would soon be commissioned. In addition, Akwa Ibom State government has also obtained licences to operate the first state owned Ibom Airlines, which would commence flight operations in a few weeks. Already, about three aircrafts are being expected in the state for the take-off of the project.
Expected to be completed soon is the Ibom Plywood Manufacturing Company but the game changer is the Ibom Deep Seaport that the state government is awaiting the preferred bidder, Bolore China Construction Ltd, to move to site once a letter has been issued to the company by Federal Government.
With several other companies, mainly of small and medium scale, Gov. Emmanuel’s dream of industrialising the state has been fulfilled. And as he campaigns for a well-deserved second term in office, Akwa Ibom can only look better in the future.
Ibanga writes from Lagos